EXCLUSIVE: The BBC is confident that it will stem the flow of its presenter exodus by signing a new deal with its highest-profile news anchor.
Deadline can reveal that BBC sources expect Huw Edwards to commit himself to the broadcaster for up to three years, ending speculation about his future.
Edwards, 61, is the BBC’s best-known and joint highest-paid news presenter. He has spoken recently about scaling back his duties, but BBC insiders are optimistic they have convinced him to stay after his standout year in 2022.
Edwards was in the chair when the BBC first reported the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death last September. He remained ever-present on-screen during the period of national mourning and the funeral, winning praise for the tone and eloquence of his reporting during a historically significant moment.
Edwards said in 2021 that he was considering quitting the BBC’s News at Ten, with The Sunday Times reporting last year that he was expected to leave the bulletin in early 2023.
“The nightly news business, after 20 years, can be taxing, even though I still enjoy the job,” he said in 2021. “But I don’t think I’ll be doing that for long.”
At the same time, there have been reports of Edwards being courted by rivals, including ITV’s Good Morning Britain, where he was eyed as a potential successor to Piers Morgan.
He is now expected to continue hosting BBC1’s 10PM bulletins, as well as playing a central role in the corporation’s coverage of King Charles III’s coronation in May. He will also be the face of the BBC’s general election output next year.
Edwards earns as much as £415,000 but has taken two pay cuts over the past three years as the BBC seeks to reduce presenter salaries. There is speculation his salary could rise again after he was convinced to stay.
The Welshman first joined the BBC as a trainee in 1984, meaning his deal will take him past 40 years at the British broadcaster.
Insiders are toasting the expected signing of Edwards following a wave of high-profile departures in recent years. Journalists including Andrew Marr, Emily Maitlis, and Jon Sopel have been poached by deep-pocketed rivals, while others have taken voluntary redundancy amid cost-cutting.
Deadline last month revealed the resignation of three of the BBC’s most seasoned anchors: David Eades, Joanna Gosling, and Tim Willcox.
In an interview with Radio Times, Edwards recalled the moment he broke the news of the Queen’s death to the nation.
“Usually, when you have a breaking story, there’s a lot of shouting in your ear from the gallery, saying, ‘go to the news, go to the news’, but this time was different,” he said. “The announcement came up on the wires and the gallery said, ‘the announcement is here. Take your time. Speak when you are ready. Don’t rush.’
“So I was able to pause for a few seconds, to make sure I would do it flawlessly, to ensure I was happy with the announcement being in place, to check that it was correctly on the autocue.”
The BBC declined to comment. Edwards did not respond to requests for comment.
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